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Central Section Top 15 high school football rankings via SBLive/Sports Illustrated, 9/11/23

Clovis North gashes way to the top of the rankings for the first time in 2023 after another big win, this one over previous No. 8 Central Valley Christian

There are lots of movers and shakers this week throughout the rankings which includes a new school atop the board.

Clovis North is our new No. 1 after running roughshod over Central Valley Christian 48-14 behind seven rushing touchdowns and 436 yards on the ground. Combine that with former No. 1 Liberty escaping with a 35-30 road win over previously unranked Buchanan and we feel the Broncos deserve to be the new No. 1.

No. 3 Clovis East keeps on trucking with an out-of-state win over Provo, Utah and No. 4 Central impressed with 41 second-half points against Bishop Diego, setting up a huge game at Liberty this Friday.

And check out No. 5 Frontier’s home performance against previous No. 6 Hanford, defeating the Bullpups 35-6, a team that came in averaging 60 points a game.

Consider us impressed.

And while small-school Caruthers isn’t ranked, we have to give a shout-out to senior running back Hunter Babb, who rushed for 440 yards and six TDs in a 79-38 win over Riverdale. Babb has rushed for 1,251 yards and 17 TDs this season.

And finally, Shafter enters our rankings after beating Bakersfield Christian 35-34 in dramatic fashion on a 2-point conversion with nine seconds left.

No guts, no glory as they say.

Now, onto the rankings …

1. Clovis North (4-0)

Last week rank: 2

Last week: Defeated Central Valley Christian 48-14

Next game: Friday home against JSerra

The Broncos gashed Central Valley Christian on the road with seven rushing TDs and 434 rushing yards, moving up to the top spot in the Central Section. Jackson Cinfel (22-229-3 TDs) and McKay Madsen (6-113, 3 TDs), both juniors, led an attack that averaged 11 yards per carry. Clovis North takes on state power JSerra at home this Friday in a colossal matchup.

Vincent Cordoba (2) has nine catches for 205 yards and three touchdowns through four games in 2023 for the Broncos. Photo: Bobby Medellin.

Vincent Cordoba (2) has nine catches for 205 yards and three touchdowns through four games in 2023 for the Broncos. Photo: Bobby Medellin.

2. Liberty-Bakersfield (3-1)

Last week rank: 1

Last week: Defeated Buchanan 35-30

Next game: Friday home against Central

Yes, the Patriots defeated Buchanan 35-30 on the road. However, the Patriots drop to No. 2 in our rankings due to the previous unranked Bears 1-2 record coming into the game and Clovis North’s body of work this season. Mekhi Deluth rushed for 129 yards and three TD and quarterback Cole O’Brien passed for a 59-yard TD and ran for a 47-yard score. The two-time defending D1 champs take on No. 3 Central this Friday in a monster matchup.

3. Clovis East (4-0)

Last week rank: 3

Last week result: Defeated Provo, Utah 41-24

Next game: Friday home against Kerman

Ty Miller tossed four TDs passes and rushed for one as the Timberwolves defeated Provo, Utah 41-24 in the Honor Bowl at Oak Ridge on Saturday. Tommy Nix caught two TDs and Harold Duvall and Aidan Wilson one each. Caleb Slocum rushed for a score.

4. Central (4-0)

Last week rank: 5

Last week result: Defeated Bishop Diego 48-28

Next game: At Liberty-Bakersfield

Down 14-7 at half, the Grizzlies exploded for 41 points in the second half on their way to a 48-28 win over Bishop Diego. Earl Riley threw five TDs with 336 yards and Braylen Hall caught nine passes for 192 yards and three TDs. Sophomore Brandon Smith ran for 113 yards and a score on nine carries setting up Friday’s big one at No. 2 Liberty-Bakersfield.

5. Frontier (4-0)

Last week rank: 7

Last week result: Defeated Hanford 35-6

Next game: Friday at Independence

Malakhi Statler threw three touchdowns and 313 yards as the Titans recorded six sacks and two forced fumbles to defeat Hanford 35-6 at home. Nsongbeh Ginyuia had a 62-yard punt return in the first quarter and Brycen Tablit scored from five yards out to cap the scoring. Hanford came in averaging 60 points per game.

6. Clovis West (3-1)

Last week rank: 4

Last week result: Defeated Bullard 21-20

Next game: Home against Edison

Down 20-0 in the second quarter, the Golden Eagles had to rally for the second straight week to defeat unranked Bullard 21-20. JD Darrington caught a 75-yard TD pass from Tyler Patrick and Tytus Dimmer returned a fumble 49 yards for a score. The comeback was complete when Patrick scored on a 2-yard TD run early in the third quarter.

7. Sanger (3-1)

Last week rank: 10

Last week result: Defeated Lemoore 42-13

Next game: Friday home against Centennial

The Apaches rushed for five touchdowns by four different players as they responded from their first loss of the season last week to Clovis East in a huge 42-13 win at Lemoore. Bryson Baker, Marshal Pittman, Israel Robles and Jacob Neimeyer scored rushing touchdowns.

8. Clovis (3-1)

Last week rank: 9

Last week result: Defeated Salinas 38-0

Next game: Friday at Bullard

Sophomore Deagan Rose passed for 356 yards and five touchdowns as the Cougars shut out Salinas 38-0 at home. Rose tossed two TDs to Nate Reinhold and one each to Tyler Marquez and Jake Saldate, who caught eight passes for 163 yards. Linebacker Noah Luginbill registered 11 tackles.

9. St. Joseph (2-1)

Last week rank: 12

Last week result: BYE

Next game: Friday at Nipomo

The Knights are coming off a bye but are hitting their stride behind running back Carter Vargas and receiver Collin Fasse.

10. Central Valley Christian (3-1)

Last week rank: 8

Last week result: Lost to Clovis North 48-14

Next game: Friday at Mission Oak

The Cavaliers suffered its first loss of the season as the Broncos grounded out 434 yards and contained running back Bryson Donelson, who came in averaging 233 yards per game, en route to a 48-14 home loss. Donelson scored on a 42-yard run in the third quarter to cut the lead to 27-14 after being held to 32 yards in the first half.

11. Kingsburg (4-0)

Last week rank: 11

Last week result: Defeated Golden West

Next game: BYE

The Vikings needed a field goal from Matt Ward with 8 seconds left to fend off winless Golden West 31-29 at home. Kingsburg went up 21-0 on two Max Warkentin TD passes and a Dennis Gagnon 33-yard run but allowed three straight touchdowns.

12. Centennial (3-1)

Last week rank: 14

Last week result: Defeated Ridgeview 37-0

Next game: Friday at Sanger

Senior Adam Copus completed 21-26 passes for 290 yards and two TDs and added a score on the ground as the Golden Hawk defense pitched a 37-0 shutout at home against Ridgeview. Boston College commit Jaxton Santiago caught nine passes for 193 yards and caught both of Copus’ TDs.

13. Hanford (3-1)

Last week rank: 6

Last week result: Lost to Frontier 35-6

Next game: Friday at Redwood

The high-powered Bullpup offense was stymied at Frontier as Hanford gave up 28 points in the first half en route to a 35-6 loss. Hanford, who came in averaging 60 points a game, scored its only points on Daniel Gomez’s 93-yard TD pass to Albert Richardson.

14. Buchanan (1-3)

Last week rank: Not ranked

Last week result: Lost to Liberty 35-30

Next game: Thursday home against San Joaquin Memorial

The Bears reenter the rankings after battling former No. 1 Liberty for 48 minutes last Friday before falling 35-30. Sophomore Austin Finnegan caught two TD passes from Logan Sanchez in a game they led 14-7 in the second quarter. Logan Studt, a Fresno State commit at linebacker, scored on a TD run and freshman Carvel Wafer scored on a 19-yard sweep.

15. Shafter (4-0)

Last week rank: Not ranked

Last week: Defeated Bakersfield Christian 35-34

Next game: Friday at Chavez

Sophomore Mariyon Sloan rushed for a 2-point conversion with nine seconds left as the Generals rallied to beat Bakersfield Christian 35-34 in a wild game in Bakersfield. Sophomore Ezekiel Ozborne passed for 231 yards with all four of his TD passes to Sloan in a game Shafter recovered an onside kick that led to the game-winning score. Sloan also tossed a touchdown pass.

Dropped out: No. 13 Lemoore, No. 15 Kennedy